Woman probes father's death
OSKALOOSA — A 1986 death ruled a suicide is back in the spotlight again after questions are raised by the victim’s daughter who is actively investigating her father’s death.
Monica Speaks, 39, of Marshalltown, shared her father's case file documents including scene photos.
Speaks is also studying forensic science and this death so close to home has inspired her investigative instincts.
Her father, Rick Lynne Davis, was found deceased in his car on July 20, 1986 on A Avenue East, Oskaloosa, with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
“It wasn’t an obvious suicide,” Speaks said. “I talked to my aunt (now deceased) and told her what she had told me all these years was the opposite of her statement to the police. She immediately called my uncle and complained about me digging into stuff.”
Speaks said that for years she had heard that her father committed suicide on his 36th birthday and that's all there was to it. In 2004, she decided to try to look at the file of her dad's just to put those nagging questions away.
Speaks said she figured it would be an obvious open and shut case of suicide. After a battle with a local county attorney, she said, she finally got the files. That's when all the questions and conflicting pieces of evidence began to mount.
According to the police report from that time, On Sunday, July 20, 1986, at approximately 8:29 a.m., an officer was dispatched to 710 A Avenue East to investigate a possible suicide. The officer arrived at 8:32 a.m. and made contact with the complainant. The officer and the complainant went to the back of the house, where the body was located in a yellow Hornet parked in the driveway.
The report states the officer opened the passenger door and felt the right wrist of the victim for a pulse.
"And while doing so I noticed the shotgun and the wound to the head," the report reads.
The officer found no pulse. The complainant stated that he had stayed the night and was leaving the house approximately 8:25 a.m. and went out in back to get in his car parked in the driveway. According to the report, the complainant noticed the victim Rick Davis lying across the front seat of his car parked north of his car in the driveway. He stated that he thought that Davis was just passed out but then he saw the blood on the car and went in the house and spoke with [another] person in the house said that she was arguing with the victim and told him to find another place to live. Supposedly victim left to call some friends in Tama.
According to the report, no one in the house heard the shot fired. A detective arrived on scene at approximately 8:49 a.m. and the investigation was turned over to him.
Speaks said that no actual death investigation took place. According to Speaks and the file, the Oskaloosa Police Department at that time contacted the DCI and told them they had a suicide and days later that was the official ruling.
According to Speaks and the information from the case file she shared, Davis was found sitting in the passenger side of his car behind a house near houses with the windows open — clearly visible in the scene photos. She said the police department said the time of death was probably around 4 a.m. when the shot was fired, that no one heard.
This story will continue in future editions of the Herald.
Herald staff writer Shelly Ragen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.